Bond girls aren’t easy
Britney, you are no Pussy Galore.
A recent “Extra” television report revealed that Britney Spears has had the gall to approach Barbara Broccoli, a producer of Bond films, with a view to becoming the next Bond Girl. Broccoli is working on the 21st installment of the film franchise, slated for a November 2005 release.
With Spears’ brazen request on the table, perhaps it is time for a refresher on what a Bond girl is and what she is not. A new coffee-table book, “Bond Girls Are Forever: The Women of James Bond” (Harry N. Abrams, $40) by John Cork (coauthor of “James Bond: The Legacy”) and former Bond Girl Maryam d’Abo (Kara Milovy in 1987’s “The Living Daylights”), breaks down the Bond Girl mystique.
Those who pigeonhole Bond girls as mere sex objects are guilty of reducing complex female characters to one rather boring dimension, the authors argue. Bond Girls are the quintessential alpha females, melding masculine confidence with feminine manner.
The classic Bond Girl’s sex appeal, says Graham Rye, publisher of Britain’s 007 Magazine and author of “The James Bond Girls,” is “drawn from an air of classy sophistication, partnered with independence, intelligence and toughness and complemented by a face that turns heads – and a great body,” he said.
“There isn’t a girl next door in the entire lot,” Sean Connery said in a 1964 interview quoted in “Bond Girls . . .”
Spears is on tour and was unavailable for comment. A representative refused to confirm or deny the report. Broccoli, in London, could not be reached for comment.
Rye reacted with horror to the idea of Spears as Bond Girl. “Britney Spears may well be suited to an appearance in a ‘Cody Banks’ movie swigging from a can of Pepsi – but James Bond – never! Unless 007 goes undercover as a pimp,” he said.
“The biggest challenge for Britney Spears,” said Cork, coauthor of “Bond Girls . . .,” “is that people already have a very strong preconceived notion of what Britney Spears is – and that is very different from audience preconceptions of what a Bond Girl is.”
What it takes
So what are the precise ingredients for a sublime Bond Girl? Vodka babetini, never shaken, stirring up James:
A Bond girl has sex appeal. Her allure stems from her classic beauty – tall, lithesome, elegant. Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder) rose from the sea like a knife-wielding Aphrodite in 1962’s “Dr. No,” the first of the Bond films. Another “Dr. No” Bond Girl, Sylvia Trench, played by Eunice Gayson, is described in the screenplay as “willowy, exquisitely gowned, with a classic, deceptively cold beauty.”
A Bond girl is exotic. She usually has an accent and speaks at least three languages – her native tongue, English and the language of love. She is from Shanghai, China; Istanbul, Turkey; Brussels, Belgium; or Belarus.
A Bond girl is smart. Mollie Peters (Patricia Fearing in 1965’s “Thunderball”) is an osteopath, Lois Chiles (Dr. Holly Goodhead) is a Vassar-educated astronaut (and secret CIA agent) in 1979’s “Moonraker.”
A Bond girl is powerful. In his novel “Live and Let Die,” Ian Fleming describes Solitaire (played by Jane Seymour in the 1973 film) thusly: “Part of the beauty of her face lay in its lack of compromise. It was the face born to command.” Author Camille Paglia in “Bond Girls . . . ” describes Pussy Galore as played by Honor Blackman in “Goldfinger” (1964) as “one of the most commanding, authoritative women in popular culture for the time.”
A Bond girl is sassy. Sarcasm is one of her sharpest weapons. She uses it to pierce James Bond’s ego at every opportunity. Luciana Paluzzi, who plays assassin Fiona Volpe in “Thunderball” (1965), mocks Bond:
“James Bond, who only has to make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents and immediately returns to the side of right and virtue – but not this one! What a blow it must have been – you having a failure.”
Britt Ekland, who plays Hong Kong spy Mary Goodnight in “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974), chides Bond: “Oh darling, I’m tempted – but killing a few hours as one of your passing fancies isn’t quite my scene.”
A Bond girl always keeps her wits about her. So sometimes she is drugged, poisoned, shot or covered with suffocating gold paint, but she can’t help that. She would never get drunk in a Vegas club and marry some schlub wearing a baseball cap. Unless she killed him afterward. Which brings us to . . . a Bond girl can hold her liquor.
A Bond girl is talented. She can pistol-whip a criminal mastermind with one hand while whipping up a prize-winning chocolate souffle in the other while stomping out a fire caused by a mysterious chemical from an Eastern European country. D’Abo’s Kara Milovy in “The Living Daylights,” for example, is a world-class concert cellist.
Most important, a Bond girl is a man-killer. Literally, of course, but she also gets the richest, the smartest, the most dangerous men in the world. Until she tires of them, or they try to feed her to sharks, or vice versa. Andrea Anders (played by Maud Adams), for example, is the kept woman of million-dollar-a-shot hit man Francisco Scaramanga in “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974). Kept very well, thank you. Honey Rider in “Dr. No” describes to Bond killing a rapist with a black widow spider: “I put a black widow under his mosquito net, a female, and they’re the worst. It took him a whole week to die. . . . Did I do wrong?”
Bond girls, sums up writer Andrea Lee in “Bond Girls . . .,” are “not simple sexpots, but ruling-class goddesses.”